Many new NAVHDA members don’t know what to expect when they go to their first training clinic. Our clinics are designed to help handlers and dogs from novice to advanced. Trainers and experienced handlers will direct a variety of activities that address the many skills your dog needs to be a successful versatile hunter, whether or not you plan to test your dog in the NAVHDA program.
Everyone is welcome to our events if you are a NAVHDA International Member. If you are not, you are required to sign a Risk Agreement (link to form below). The form needs to be signed and witnessed at or prior to the start of every clinic. Chapter fee for non NAVHDA members is $25.00 per event.
Registration will begin at 8:00 AM sharp. Membership verification and Risk Agreements are required prior to registering, buying birds or purchasing lunch. There will be volunteers at registration to answer your questions, collect forms and payments. We highly encourage all, to verify your membership status and complete Risk Agreement (attached) prior to attending each event to make check-in easier.
As always birds are on a first come first served basis. We try very hard to order adequate numbers. There is a 2 bird limit per dog. If you come with multiple dogs, they will be staggered throughout the morning in fairness to all. Remember, our volunteers/workers have the “priority” to jump in line at any time they find a break!
How does the day go?
Handlers (that’s you) will be divided up according to the skill or test level you’re training your dog for – Natural Ability or Utility Test. The person in charge of training for the day will then explain what the day’s activities will be. Trainers and experienced handlers will direct a variety of activities that address the many skills your dog needs to be a successful versatile hunter, whether or not you plan to test your dog in NAVHDA.
One field will offer a variety of training stations prior to going the field for pointing. Stations may include bird and pole, training tables, long lead drills, place-board skills, fun retrieving drills, and heeling. Another field will be a bird-less field to teach puppies wind use and basic field hunting. Finally, another field or two will be designated for Natural Ability and Utility/Invitational levels to work on pointing, steadiness, and retrieving shot birds. If you’re new to NAVHDA and/or training your first bird dog, we highly recommend giving your pup a break and heading to the UT field to watch, listen and learn from our highly skilled trainers. **Remember, one piece of orange clothing or hat is required in fields using live ammo.
It’s important to remember that training takes time! Since turns in the field or water are based on the sign-up’s first come, first served basis, after the group work, there will be waiting time. While you wait, you have a great opportunity to continue training. Throw marks for retrieves, practice the heeling course, teach your dog patience watching others dogs, etc. And don’t be shy – ask another handler to help you by steadying your dog or setting up blind retrieves or creating distractions, then do the same in return.
For everyone’s safety, all dogs must be on a leash or in a kennel when they aren’t working.
What to Bring
For your dog, bring plenty of water, a short lead and whatever basic hunting/training gear you use – check cord, choke chain, e-collar, whistle, etc. It’s a good idea to bring your dog’s kennel crate and/or a tie-out stake. The chapter has equipment available, such as dummies, training platforms, blinds, a bird launcher, training table, and heeling course stakes.
For you, bring sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, folding chair, and drinks. At some of our clinics and test days, a barbecue lunch will be available for a donation of $5 for adults and kids eat free. You’ll be advised ahead of time if there will be a barbecue. If so, we’ll ask everyone to contribute either a side dish or dessert. If the clinic is scheduled for late spring or summer, you might want to bring a tarp or sun shelter. The fields where we train have little or no shade, so keeping cool (both you and your dog) is always a challenge. Check the weather. Rain gear may be needed. We train in rain or shine. The fields are often damp or muddy, too, so having some kind of waterproof footwear is a good idea.
Can my children attend the clinic with me?
Absolutely! We encourage chapter youth to participate, whether it is helping plant birds, being much needed “go-fers,” or just having fun petting, playing and helping to socialize puppies.
What do the birds cost?
That varies year to year. The chapter, as a rule, charges $2 over our cost per bird to cover bird losses, and miscellaneous clinic expenses. Approximate costs are $15 for chukars, $25-30 for pheasants, and $20-25 for ducks. These costs are subject to change without notice.
Can I purchase birds to take home for training?
At the end of the day, birds that aren’t used or that are recaptured can be brought home, and if we have extra birds at the end of the day, you can purchase them, as well. This is done on a first come, first serve basis. Please Note!! For those shooting over their dogs or those who would like to purchase left over birds you must purchase a Dog Training and Firearm Use permit from the MDIFW. Download the application online (link at the bottom of the page) and call or mail in your application along with the permit fee. MDIFW #(207)287-8000
How long does the clinic last?
As long as it takes. Our goal is to make sure every handler gets the information and experience he or she needs.
What does the clinic cost?
The Yankee Chapter offers the clinic free of charge to all NAVHDA members. Participants who are not members of NAVHDA will be charged $25, which, at the end of the day, can be credited to a membership if the participant so chooses.
Can I bring more than one dog?
Yes, but particularly with dogs at the Natural Ability level, it’s often best to plan on working with just one throughout the day. If you bring other dogs along, there is plenty of time and a place where they can be exercised.
Please Note: For everyone’s safety, all dogs must be on a leash or in a kennel when they aren’t working.
My dog hasn’t trained with other dogs. Will this be a problem?
If it is, we’ll help. Many dogs get very excited seeing all the other dogs, and this distraction can work to our advantage by giving us an opportunity to teach them to focus on their handler. Whether it’s keeping the young dog on a training platform while he gets used to the other dogs walking around him or teaching a “leave it” command when he pulls towards another dog, there are many strategies to get him used to the group. When the dogs work with the birds, in the field or the water, they will be working individually, unless training to honor another dog.
What if my dog is in heat?
Because of the distraction for male dogs which can be very disruptive to training, we ask that bitches in heat train last. Please keep your dog aside (staked or crated) until it’s your turn for the field or water work, but be sure to let the folks in charge of training know you’re waiting. That way we can be sure your dog will get equal time.